Is willpower limiting your success?

I’m not as dumb or resilient as I was when I was twenty. I can’t workout anymore without warming up. I can’t drink anymore without a titanic hangover. And if I need to be productive, I don’t rely on my willpower.

Like every red-blooded American I love the idea of mental toughness, I just hate leaving my success up to chance. I’m 100x more effective if I design an environment that forces me to produce, instead of relying on my limited (and inconsistent) willpower.

Today was a good example. After breakfast, I opened my computer and stared at a blank page for 10 minutes. It was daunting. I could tell right away I was in for a long day.

So instead of giving in, I fought back. I unplugged my computer and cleared my entire desk. I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, and drew a grid with four quadrants in it.

  • Important – Urgent
  • Important – Not Urgent
  • Not Important – Urgent
  • Things to Do

I then filled out each grid in order of importance.


45 minutes later, my head was clear and I had an organized to do list. Clearing the desk “drop kicked” my brain into action. I have kept it clean for the rest of the day, and have been working through the list.

If you’re struggling to get something done, don’t be afraid to take a step back and create an environment where you’ll be more successful.  Business isn’t youth soccer – you don’t win an award just for determination.

This has been my most productive month in a while and it’s not because I’ve increased my willpower. It’s because I’ve decided not to leave productivity to chance. Instead of concentrating on boosting my resolve, I’ve decided to focus on building environments and incentives where it’s impossible for me to fail. That has made the difference.

Everyone battles with distraction from time to time.  What do you do to fight against it? Leave a comment below.

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